Monday, October 20, 2008

October Dinner

Another FABULOUS night with our Culinary Crew. Hostesses Jennifer Roberts, Bekah Lee and Arie Crane treated us with an autumn feast! Does anyone else TOTALLY look forward to these nights!!! Ladies it was amazing! (but you did escape without a picture of the 3 of you together)

Blood Orange Spritzers w/Pomegranate Sugar
2 ¼ cups cold freshly squeezed, frozen, or bottled blood-orange juice
2 bottles cold ginger ale
Pomegranate rimming sugar

Dampen a new, clean sponge and place on level surface. First, place top of goblets onto sponge and then dip them in the sugar. (Note from CCrew: Recipe recommended that we let them dry for ½ hour to 1 hour; now, we feel we would do these just before serving so sugar does not get so hard.)

Pour 3 tablespoons juice into each goblet, and top off with ginger ale. Makes 12.

Apricot-Cranberry Brie en Croûte
½ pkg. puff pastry sheets
1 egg
1 Tablespoon water
½ cup apricot preserves (used Smuckers Simply Fruit)
½ cup dried cranberry, softened
1 (13.2 ounce) round Brie cheese
Butter or Entertaining crackers

Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix egg and water.

Unfold pastry sheet on lightly floured surgace. Roll into 14-inch square. Cut off corners to make a circle. Spread preserves to within 1 inch of pastry edge. Sprinkle cranberries (and may add sliced almonds or chopped pecans if desired) over preserves. Top with cheese. Brush edge of circle with egg mixture. Bring all edges of puff pastry over edge of cheese (opposite sides over cheese). Trim remaining pastry. Press edges to seal. Place seam side down on baking sheet – lined with parchment paper. Decorate top with pastry scraps if desired. Brush with egg mixture.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden. Let stand 1 hour. Serve with crackers.

Smoked Salmon and Dill on Pumpernickel Squares
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 ounces smoked salmon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 bunch fresh dill, sprigs picked from stems
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Loaf of small, hors d’oeuvres-size pumpernickel bread (or a regular-size loaf of pumpernickel, slices cut into 2-inch squares)
2 small radishes, sliced paper thin

Place cream cheese, smoked salmon, all but ¼ cup of the dill sprigs, 2 tablespoons of cream, and Tabasco sauce in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment. Blend until smooth and pink with green flecks of dill, adding the reserved tablespoon of cream if the spread seems very stiff.

Chill spread for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. (If, when you removed the spread from the refrigerator, it is at first too stiff to pipe, let it sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes.

Place spread in pastry bag fitted with a round, star or shell-shaped tip and pipe mixture onto pumpernickel squares. (A re-sealable plastic bag with a corner snipped off can also do the work of a pastry bag).

Garnish hors d’oevres with one or two slices of radish and a sprig of dill. Makes about 30 hors d’oeuvres. Serves 8-10.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
2 lb. bacon, slices cut into 3 sections
3 cans drained water chestnuts

Wrap a piece of bacon (which has been cut in thirds) around each water chestnut. Hold bacon together with a toothpick (or put fold on the bottom). Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes or until brown. Drain off grease. Mix:

8 oz. Hellmann's mayonnaise
12 oz. chili sauce (we used ½ tsp. Spiracha Thai chili sauce- add to your liking)
2 c. brown sugar
Pour over chestnuts. Bake again at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Pumpkin-Coconut Bisque
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
2 1⁄2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk ( We preferred to use more to sweeten the soup – around 3.5 cups)
Ground nutmeg
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, broth, sugar, allspice, crushed red pepper, ginger and coconut milk. Bring to boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes

Mixed Green Salad with Pluots, Pomegrante & Pecans
10 Cups of fresh, washed and dried mixed baby salad greens
½- ¾ Cup fennel, chopped or sliced and cut to about 1 ½ -inch size.
1 Cup fresh pomegranate seeds
3 pluots, sliced
Sweet & Salty nuts (*see recipe) & shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish

½ Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons (up to 1/3 cup) Red Wine Vinegar (C. Crew Note: If you like a tarter flavor use
the greater amount of vinegar; less for a more mild flavor)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons green onion, chopped
½ teaspoon salt (used Kosher)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds.

Combine dressing ingredients in blender or with hand blender until smooth. In a large bowl, mix lettuce, and fennel and toss with dressing so leaves are just lightly coated. Serve on individual plates with about 1 cup of dressed greens, a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, 3-4 pluots placed on top of greens and a small pile of nuts in center. Garnish with shaved parmesan. Serves 8-10
Sweet and Salty Nuts
1 pound pecan halves (about 4 ½ cups)
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light-color corn syrup
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Coarse raw sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using about 2 tablespoonsbutter, generously butter a cookie sheet with sides; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the nuts, granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and pepper until well combined; spread into prepared pan.

Bake about 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven. Sprinkle generously with raw sugar; toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a large piece of foil. Cool completely. Break apart to serve. Makes 5-6 cups.

To store: Place nuts in an airtight container; store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

Vanilla Cider Pork with Pears
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and quartered
1-lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed, sliced into twelve 1-inch thick medallions, seasoned
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fresh apple cider
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (CC note: Flavor was actually more intense with vanilla extract than
w/vanilla bean – so used Pure Vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears and sauté until lightly browned; remove from pan. Set aside.

Lightly season pork with salt and a bit of pepper, then dredge in flour. Sauté medallions for 2 minutes on each side in the same pan the pears were sautéed in; remove from pan.
Combine broth, cider and cream; add to the pan to deglaze. Bring to a boil, then add vanilla. Boil until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Return pears and pork to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Boil until thick, about 4 minutes. Add rosemary and thyme. Season with salt and pepper before serving (as desired). Garnish with long chives.

Roasted Garlic & Chive Mashed Potatoes
½ - 1 head of garlic (Can use roasted garlic puree – Williams Sonoma has a good one.)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 ½ pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
2 Tablespoons sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut top ¼ inch off head of garlic to expose tops of cloves. Place in small baking dish. Spoon oil over; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until garlic cloves are tender, about 45 minutes. Squeeze garlic cloves from skins and mash in small bowl. (CC Note: Used ½ head of garlic).

Cook potatoes in heavy, large pot of boiloing salted water until very tender, about 18 minutes. Drain; return to pot. Stir potatoes over low heat to allow excess water to evaporate. Add whipping cream, butter, sour cream, and raosted garlic and mash together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (CC Note - Tips for smooth, creamy potatoes: Add just enough water that is room temperature above cut potatoes before boiling; warm whipping cream before adding to potatoes; use a food mill when potatoes are warm.) Stir in chives and serve. Serves 6.

Ginger Crème Brulee


* 1 extra-large egg
* 4 extra-large egg yolks
* 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
* 3 cups heavy cream
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (we used imitation per allergies!)
* 1/8 tsp almond extract
1 tsp jarred minced ginger (add to taste)


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla, almond extract and ginger and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Garnish with whipped cream and chopped caramelized ginger.